In honor of HBO Max becoming the official streaming home for all of the new incarnation of “Doctor Who,” the WarnerMedia streaming service and BBC America came together for a first-time-ever “Meeting of the Doctors,” a virtual panel featuring David Tennant, Matt Smith, and current helmer of the Doctor mantle, Jodie Whittaker. Billed as a “Whovian dream come true,” this 20-minute panel — which you can view below — called on the collective powers of the Tenth (Tennant), Eleventh (Smith), and Thirteenth Doctors (Whittaker) to discuss “Doctor Who’s” reach and legacy, as well as the camaraderie between Doctors of the past and present.
The panel also — like pretty much every panel and virtual get together as of late — discussed just how surreal it is to be having such a monumental reunion in a virtual state. Whittaker admitted that she wished this reunion could be more “like a high-five and a hug scenario,” but she appreciated getting to talk to people outside her household. “It’s almost like a social night out,” she said. Tennant agreed, explaining that, “it’d be more fun if we were actually together right now. I would enjoy that right now. But it’s nice to see some faces.”
Smith added that he finds technology “very unnerving, on all counts,” though he also noted that he “probably shouldn’t say that, as a former Doctor.”
Tennant, Smith, and Whittaker all recounted their experiences of when they were first cast as their respective iterations of Doctor, especially knowing how culturally significant the series and its titular character are in Great Britain. “Growing up in Britain, you’re very aware that ‘Doctor Who’ has been ubiquitous for all of our lives,” Tennant said. “Even when it wasn’t on TV, it’s still one of those sort of cultural things that was just kind of around…certainly when I was young, Doctor Who was one of those things that was there.” So upon casting, he understood what a big deal it was to “be carrying that around.”
Tennant continued: “It’s a huge privilege and also feels very precious, because people love it so much. And it means so much to people all through their lives, that to be a custodian of that, for a while, you just don’t want to break it. You just want to make sure that it remains as special and precious and as exciting for the next generation as it did to yours, I guess.”
Smith confirmed just how accurate Tennant’s description was: “I once had someone shout, when I was walking down the street and I hadn’t shot a single frame, ‘DON’T BREAK DOCTOR WHO!’” Whittaker recounted a similar experience from after she was cast as the Doctor, where a 16-year-old girl in a cafe told her, “I really wanted Ben Whishaw.”
“Everyone wanted Ben Whishaw,” Smith said.
In addition to the panel, IndieWire briefly spoke with Tennant, Smith, and Whittaker about “Doctor Who” and what they think the selling point is for the series, specifically for audiences who have yet to hop aboard the TARDIS and aren’t as familiar as British audiences are with the science-fiction phenomenon. After all, consider how 11 seasons (and counting) are already available to stream on HBO Max and how the description of “man or woman in a box,” according to Tennant “sounds bonkers.”
“It’s a show that isn’t bound by any form or genre,” Smith said. “And that’s one of the great virtues of it, is that one week it can be a horror movie, then it can be sort of film noir, and then it can be comedy, you know, like a bromance. And it sort of manages to sort of sit in and between everything. It’s the best show in the world: That’s the tagline basically, it pretty much is.”
“It’s for everyone,” Whittaker explained. “You don’t need to have encyclopedic knowledge about that. I didn’t have that, and I found it and still find it the most accessible thing. There is something otherworldly and there is something completely relatable for everyone, and I think that’s what’s exciting about it. It’s not got a specific age group that it’s aimed at — it’s one of those beautiful things that your entire family could watch, which is quite rare.”
Doctor Who is available to stream exclusively on HBO Max and future seasons/specials will premiere on BBC America.